Your sock drawer should bring you joy, not misery

It’s time to level up.
It’s time to level up.
Image: Reuters/Nacho Doce
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Socks are unsung heroes, sartorially speaking. They look after your feet, which work hard all day, keep your extremities warm through the winter, and do so without crying out for attention or garnering much praise. To boot: If your sock is slipping down all day, you are surely going to know about it.

Around autumn, when open toes and slip-ons start giving way to thick soles and lace-ups, the humble sock’s workhouse status becomes even more pronounced. But alas, nothing is sadder than a sock drawer that hasn’t been updated since four Christmases ago. Thus the shift in seasons is the perfect time to upgrade your sock life. Here’s a guide for how to do it:

Step 1: Your sock drawer needs an inventory

It’s time to look at your sock drawer in the harsh light of day, rather than in the glow of a side-table lamp as you’re rushing to get dressed. Notice the pairs you always choose first after laundry day—that’s a hint to buy more like those. And take note of categories of socks you could do with more of; maybe you have plenty of socks to work out in but not enough pairs to wear with work shoes or boots. This is information you can use.

Step 2: Be ruthless with the dregs

Love it or hate it, but the KonMari method has a point when it comes to your sock drawer: If you want your socks to spark joy, there is no such thing as “good enough.” Don’t keep socks you might wear or would wear only if desperate. Throw out anything that doesn’t have a match, is riddled with holes, is threadbare at the toes and heels, or just never feels quite right. The point here is to reach sock heaven, not hang out on earth. Cull accordingly.

Step 3: Carefully buy what you need

Once you have taken an inventory, it’s time to level up. Bulk-buying socks on Amazon is certainly one way to do it; however, nothing is worse than buying 12 pairs of “Cotton Rich, Comfortable, Breathable, Designer Socks” to find that they don’t hit on quite the right point on your ankle or calf. Here, good old-fashioned department stores (remember those?) are great for their wide selection, as are discount stores like TJ Max, Marshalls, and the like. Try a few different styles and pay attention to the sensory details. Does it feel nice? When you find one you like, remain loyal to it forever.

Step 4: Make it fashun

No, your socks don’t have to be stylish. But it’s surprisingly satisfying to buy a few pairs of premium or noticeably stylish socks. Think of it like a party for your hardworking feet, whether you go for the buy-for-life appeal of a brand like Darn Tough or the dandy-like showmanship seen on the runways of Prada (a knockoff will do, too). Quartz fashion reporter Marc Bain swears by wool socks, whereas I’ve recently become fond of the cozy wholesomeness of Wigwam. And then, for the truly lush among us, there’s always cashmere—nothing will spark joy faster.